Mexico storms strand thousands of tourists, with no reprieve in sight
Hurricane Ingrid on the Gulf coast and Hurricane Manuel on the Pacific have slammed Mexico, causing flooding and mudslides that have killed at least 80 people. More rain is expected.
– A roundup of global reports
Parts of Mexico have been inundated by some of the worst rain in decades, stranding thousands of people and affecting more than a million nationwide – and the country can’t seem to catch a break.
Mexico was sandwiched between two storms earlier this week – Ingrid on the Gulf coast and Manuel on the Pacific – and on Wednesday Manuel regained strength and became a hurricane, expected to further pound Mexico with 15 inches of rain moving north up the coast. Flooding and mudslides have claimed at least 80 lives across the country, Mexico’s interior ministry said on Wednesday.
"The aid is flowing," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said this week. "A large deployment [of resources] is being made specifically to the most affected areas."
But weather conditions have impeded those aid deliveries to some of the areas hardest hit by rain, flooding, and mudslides. Relief efforts were able to resume on Wednesday, the president told reporters.
A landslide in storm-battered Guerrero state left 58 people unaccounted for Wednesday night in a small coffee-growing community, La Pintada, reports The Associated Press. Renewed rain has made getting to the isolated, mountainous area even more precarious for rescuers.
"It's very likely that these 58 missing people lost their lives," said Angel Aguirre, governor of Guerrero state, the Associated Press reports.
Rescuers are still trying to evacuate remaining residents in La Pintada, where “tons of dirt and rocks smashed through the center of town Monday night, burying a church and an untold number of two-story homes,” reports the AP.
“It was like an explosion that blew through the hills, and within seconds the earth collapsed and houses came falling down and others were buried,” Amelia Saldaña Gregorio told Mexican daily El Universal. She lost her four children and her mother in the disaster.
Tourist destination hit hard
Flooding has stranded an estimated 40,000 people in the Pacific coast tourist destination Acapulco, Reuters reports. Many traveled there for the long weekend celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept. 16. Main roads in and out of the city have been blocked by landslides and parts of the airport have been flooded. Looters stormed abandoned retail stores, “stealing everything from televisions to Christmas decorations.”
A separate AP report noted that armed state police watched over a partially flooded – and looted – Costco store:
Hundreds of people waded through waist-high brown water in the store's parking lot on Wednesday, fishing out anything — cans of food or soda — that looters might have dropped. Others shouted for the now-shuttered store to be re-opened.
"If we can't work, we have to come and get something to eat," said fisherman Anastasio Barrera, as he stood with his wife outside the store. "The city government isn't doing anything for us, and neither is the state government."
Beaches are covered in debris and people have been rescued via kayaks, ziplines, and other means, NBC reports. City officials estimate 23,000 homes in Acapulco – largely on the outskirts – are without water or electricity.
Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton told CNN that the city has been “practically incommunicado.”
Some passenger terminals in the airport are flooded and ticketing has been moved to a nearby convention center. The AP reports that two flights an hour started running out of Acapulco, giving “priority [to] those with tickets, the elderly, and families with young children.” Officials predict roads between the capital Mexico City and Acapulco won't be reopened for days.